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The imaginary traffic offense

For those of you not too familiar with the politics of Indonesia, the new president Jokowi was elected last July and took office in October. After years of the same man at the head of the country and quite some changes of the last decade (a quick reminder can be found here), the expectations are high. It turns out that so far, for foreigners living in Indonesia, not everything is super smooth with the new president.

First there has been the string of executions of people convicted of death penalty. Some of them had been waiting in death row for over a decade and I think a lof of people assumed they would just get a life sentence instead. And they were wrong. Despite pleas for mercy and appeals and ambassadors visits, Jokowi did not back down and several inmates (Indonesians and foreigners) have been executed since the beginning of the year.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to find excuses to people smuggling drugs in the country. However there is in my mind no excuse either for using death penalty, which is unefficient and inhuman, no matter what the offense is.

Also you can imagine the reaction of some of the tourists from several countries, wondering whether they should come to Indonesia or not when the country executes their compatriates. Well, please do come and visit. People are lovely and they mean no harm. Just don’t smuggle drugs in because you will be mighty sorry if you get caught.

Then there was the commotion over the execution of two Indonesian citizens in Saudi Arabia for a murder conviction. The Indonesian government appealed for the sentence to be commuted to life, but all pleas were rejected. Hold on...isn't that the same answer you gave to other governments?


Also, the new president has decided that foreigners in this country were having it too easy when it comes to working and living in Indonesia. Since July, rules for tourist visa extension have been modified to make it more complicated (which is a bit contradictory with the announcement that several countries will soon get free visa on arrival, but hey, what do I know about visa politics?). As for work permits, well we are getting into a bit of a headache because regulations seem to be changing every month or so. There was discussions about having a language test to obtain a work permit, there is more papers, there are rumours flying around that work permits are only granted for 6 months and not for 12, etc. Mine is in renewal as we speak and fingers crossed it will go all well….

As for the rest of the country, they keep doing what they are doing. I was in Bali last week, I literally got pulled over 3 minutes after getting on my rental motorbike for an imaginary traffic offense that I had committed and that the kind policeman had witnessed. Of course my main offense was not to have covered my legs so it was obvious I was foreigner (and clearly I am not the whitest person around here either). I gave my licence to the cop and slipped a 50.000 note in it, he took it, gave me a smile and wished me a good day while I was silently insulting him in my head. It’s not so much about the 50.000 (still could be a couple of beers, mind) but that kind of things really makes me angry.

I am sure President Jokowi is aware of that too, but maybe instead of executing people he should worry about corruption, the gangrene of his country.


On a different note, I know this is the first blog post in a long time but I was busy diving and all. It turns out that I got myself a little inner ear barotrauma (do what the book say: do NOT dive with a cold) and therefore I am stuck on dry land for a couple of weeks, so here goes. I get to entertain my housemates by losing my balance doing really basic things and being tired all the time, which is great. As the doctor kindly put it, it could be worse, I can still walk.

I get to do boring office stuff, it’s not like I can go surf or anything since standing on a surfboard is already pretty challenging for me, but even more so with balance issues, so here I am sitting at work being bored. Running has proven OK though, so I run. Got up at 6.30 this morning to run before work, made me feel like a freaking SUPERHERO.

At least this is a valuable life lesson: next time I have a cold I will stop acting like it’s not there and keep diving, instead I’ll stay in bed and watch movies.

If you want to send me a long email with updates about your life, this week is a good one to do so.

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